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Hoare, William (1707?-1792) (DNB00)


HOARE, WILLIAM (1707?–1792), known as ‘Hoare of Bath,’ portrait-painter, was born, according to his son's account, about 1707 at Eye in Suffolk, but more probably, as his name does not occur in the church register of that place, in some neighbouring parish. His father was a prosperous farmer, and he received an excellent education at a school of some repute at Faringdon in Berkshire, where he developed so great a talent for drawing that he was allowed to adopt art as a profession. He was placed under Grisoni, an Italian artist then resident in London, at whose suggestion he proceeded to Rome to complete his studies. He is said to have been the first English artist who visited Rome for this purpose. There he lodged with Scheemakers the sculptor, and his pupil Delvaux, whose acquaintance he had made in England, and entered the school of Francesco Fernandi, called ‘d'Imperiali,’ an historical painter. Pompeo Batoni, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship, was his fellow-pupil. His father was ruined by the South Sea scheme, and young Hoare soon found himself thrown on his own resources. To maintain himself he made copies of famous masterpieces, which he executed skilfully, and they sold readily. After a sojourn of nine years in Italy, he established himself in London, hoping to obtain employment as a painter of historical subjects, but, failing in this, he turned to portrait-painting, and met with much success. On his marriage with a Miss Barker, whose family was connected with Bath, he removed to that city, and remained there till his death. Hoare soon obtained a large and lucrative practice; for many years he was without a rival, and most of the distinguished persons who annually visited Bath sat to him; among them was the elder Pitt, who presented his portrait to Lord Temple in 1754, and wrote in high terms of the artist's powers. He seems to have been specially patronised by the members of the Pelham family, whose portraits he frequently painted. At an early period Hoare practised crayon drawing. Rosalba Carriera had made the art popular, and Hoare obtained from her two examples of her work, in order to master the technique of the method. His crayon portraits are very numerous, and perhaps more highly esteemed than his works in oil. In 1749 he made a tour through France and the Netherlands for purposes of study. Vertue mentions that he came to London in 1752 to execute some commissions, but he does not seem to have stayed long. Hoare exhibited occasionally with the Society of Artists and the Free Society, and was one of the committee of artists who made the abortive attempt to establish an academy in 1755. On the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, Hoare was chosen one of the original members, his diploma being the last signed by the king, and he was a frequent contributor to its exhibitions up to 1783, sending chiefly works in crayons. At Bath Hoare painted a few religious subjects. He presented a large picture of the Saviour to St. Michael's Church, and for the Octagon Chapel, built in 1767, executed an altar-piece representing the ‘Pool of Bethesda.’ These were ambitious compositions in the style of his master Imperiali, but possessed little merit. The first-named is now in the vestry of St. Michael's, the second remains ‘in situ.’ In the Bath General Hospital is a work of a different class, ‘Dr. Oliver and Mr. Pierce examining patients afflicted with paralysis, rheumatism, and leprosy,’ 1742.

Hoare was a man of scholarly tastes, and enjoyed the personal friendship of many of his eminent sitters. He was a constant visitor at Prior Park, the seat of Ralph Allen [q. v.], where he met Pope and other men of letters. He died at Bath in December 1792. In Bath Abbey is a mural tablet to Hoare's memory, with a medallion of him. He had a numerous family; one son, Prince [q. v.], was the well-known artist and dramatist, and a daughter, Mary, married Henry Hoare, brother of Sir Richard Hoare, bart., of Stourhead. Another daughter exhibited pictures with the Society of Artists and the Free Society between 1761 and 1764. He had a brother who practised as a sculptor at Bath, and executed the statue of ‘Beau’ Nash in the Pump Room.

The corporation of Bath possesses portraits by Hoare of the Earl of Chatham, Christopher Anstey, ‘Beau’ Nash (engraved for his ‘Life,’ 1762), Samuel Derrick, and Governor Pownall; in the National Portrait Gallery are those of Lord Chesterfield, the Duke of Newcastle, Henry Pelham, Lord Temple, and Pope, all in crayons, and a whole length of the Duke of Grafton in oils. His portraits are solidly painted, natural in attitude, and full of character; those in crayons are fine and harmonious in colouring; many of them have been engraved by Faber, Houston, McArdell, Dixon, and others. He etched heads of Charles, fourth duke of Beaufort, Bishop Warburton, Sir Isaac Newton, Ralph Allen, and Peter Stephens, together with Reynolds's profile portrait of the Countess Waldegrave. A portrait of Hoare, painted by his son, has been engraved by S. W. Reynolds, and he appears in Zoffany's picture of the ‘Life School of the Royal Academy,’ engraved by Earlom.

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict. (materials supplied by Prince Hoare); Edwards's Anecdotes of Painting; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1880; Pye's Patronage of British Art, 1845; Grenville Correspondence, ed. W. J. Smith, 1852; Vertue's MS. Collections, Brit. Mus.; Dodd's manuscript memoirs of English Engravers, Brit. Mus.]

F. M. O'D.